The Brooklyn Public Library digital Collection

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Brooklyn takes its history seriously and has the digital resources to prove it. I was browsing the new and improved BPL website – I really miss living in Brooklyn since my big out-of-state move – There’s a wealth of newly digitized information, articles, and photographs just waiting to be discovered! Sign yourself up for a Virtual Library card if you don’t already have a BPL card.

How would you like to browse through Phone Directories and City Listings over 500 pages long going back to 1856? You may find your ancestors listed.

There are 20,000 digital historical photos with the option to purchase for personal, commercial or educational use.

Civil War Buff? History Teacher? Student? Browse Brooklyn In the Civil War for information, pictures, and lesson plans.

I could keep listing, but why not just go directly to the Collections Page and see for yourself. They’ve added a bounty of treasures from Theater playbills to a digital collection of American and European Children’s books.

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Fulton Street Trading Cards from the 19th & Early 20th Century

Just as it is a diverse hub of activity today, Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn was once home to a score of lively businesses and factories. Long before that time, it was an Indian Path that lead to Hempstead Plains in Long Island. Fulton Street, like many other places in America, was named after the American Inventor and Engineer, Robert Fulton.

The proof of this active commercialism can be seen in a colorful and fine collection of advertisements, commonly known as Trading Cards. They were the grandaddy of the modern-day business cards. In my opinion these lovely cards have a lot more heart and appeal than their modern counterparts. Frankly, anything that is painstakingly designed, hand-drawn and crafted without the use of modern technology, tends to be. Like most advertisements in the past, companies relied heavily on dramatic and sweet art work, elegant fonts, and background embellishments to sell their products.

Half the time these masterpieces had little to do with the actual product. For example, in the trading card above, what does cute, chubby children and a terrier on a beach have to do with furniture, bedding, and stoves? Perhaps the advertisers were sending a subconscious message to consumers: Make sure your home is well furnished for when they come home after a long day of frolicking in the sand!

Either way, the trading cards were often pleasing to look at, and the mind-set and sensibilities of people in the 19th century were far different than ours.

Check out the full 245 card collection that has been digitally restored and showcased in the Brooklyn Public Library Databases.

The Fulton Street Trade Card Collection